Arlington, VA

After delays in planning and over a year of construction, Arlington’s ambitious overhaul of Mosaic Park (538 N. Pollard Street) is about a month away from its debut.

The park is planned to open, in part, in late September, according to Susan Kalish, spokeswoman for the county parks department.

The renovations convert the park behind the Gold’s Gym in Ballston to an urban plaza with an interactive water feature, children’s play area, casual use lawn, multipurpose court, and basketball half-court. Some of those new features won’t be active at the start, however, due to the pandemic.

“When the park opens the water feature, two electrical circular play elements, park lighting and multipurpose court lighting won’t be available until later in the fall,” Kalish said. “The water feature is official called a splashpad, as you can walk into it and play around. According to the Governor’s Forward Virginia guidelines, splashpad (and our spraygrounds) cannot be turned on due to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The county website said the park is designed with casual “drop-in activities” in mind rather than specific sports or engagement with nature.

“Mosaic Park is specifically designed to bring a diverse community together,” the county said. “Whether laying out to soak up some rays or challenging a neighbor to a friendly game of frisbee, this park is uniquely positioned to support impromptu, casual usage.”

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Utility work on the under-construction Mosaic Park will close a road in Ballston for the next three weeks.

County crews are closing 5th Road N. between N. Quincy and Pollard streets on weekdays from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. The closures kicked off yesterday (Monday) “to accommodate utility work” for the park and are set to wrap up on Friday, Aug. 16, according to an Arlington Alert.

The road is just south of the Gold’s Gym in Ballston, on the southern edge of Mosaic Park.

The utility work is the start of a long-planned effort to overhaul Mosaic Park, with a new playground, athletic court and water feature, among other upgrades. The park, once largely a grass field with some playground equipment, is currently fenced off and mostly mounds of dirt and construction equipment.

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Workers might’ve lifted the new Ballston Quarter pedestrian bridge into place over Wilson Blvd, but it won’t be ready for walkers for months yet.

The county announced yesterday (Thursday) that another four months of work are scheduled on the bridge, which is designed to connect the newly revamped Ballston Quarter development with the neighborhood’s Metro station, linked through the Ballston Exchange development at 4201 Wilson Blvd.

That work means that more road closures are underway on a busy Ballston street.

Tonight (Friday), Wilson Blvd will close between N. Randolph and N. Stuart streets starting at 8 p.m. It won’t reopen until Sunday at 6 p.m.

Then, starting Monday (March 4), county officials say they plan to close the eastbound lanes of Wilson Blvd overnight on weekdays for the next eight weeks. The closure will run from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. each night, and they’re designed to allow time for “glass installation” on the bridge.

Once that wraps up, workers will close the westbound lanes of Wilson overnight for the next eight weeks to allow for the completion of that work.

Ballston Quarter’s developer, Forest City, also recently secured the County Board’s blessing to continue to use Mosaic Park as a construction staging area through March 22. The developer used the space to assemble the bridge, temporarily delaying planned renovations for the park.

Forest City had hoped to have the bridge ready in time for the development to start opening to customers last fall, but quickly realized it would need more time for the project.

It’s one of many delays for the redevelopment of the old Ballston Common mall — not only has the developer missed its own targets for opening stores to customers, but it’s currently unclear just when its new food court may open for business.

Photo 1 via @ArlingtonDES

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Morning Notes

Amazon HQ2 Update — “JBG Smith Properties has begun design and pre-development on the first installment of Amazon.com Inc.’s new headquarters buildings in Arlington County, with the aim of starting construction on HQ2’s initial 2 million square feet of office space ‘within the next year.'” [Washington Business Journal]

Mosaic Park Contract Approved — “The Arlington County Board today approved a contract for slightly more than $6.08 million with Nastos Construction Inc. to build a new Mosaic Park in the heart of Ballston.” [Arlington County]

Amazon Spurs on Real Estate Investors — “After real estate agents reported ‘packs of investors’ at open houses in Virginia’s Arlington and Alexandria in December, the number of houses and condos on the market has been seriously depleted.” [WTOP]

Eden Center’s Past and Present — “The opening of the Clarendon Metro station in December 1979, made it far easier to get to Little Saigon. This wasn’t good news for everyone… Rents went up and shops closed. Luckily, only about three and a half miles down Wilson Boulevard, Eden Center was taking shape.” [DCist]

Clarendon Crash Causes Traffic WoesUpdated at 9 a.m. — A crash at the intersection of Wilson Blvd and 10th Street N. closed westbound 10th Street and blocked a lane of Wilson Blvd in each directions during the morning rush hour, leading to traffic congestion around the area. [Twitter]

We’re Seeking Story Pitches — Do you have an interesting, important and original story to tell about Arlington? Thanks to our Patreon community, we’re seeking pitches from local freelancers. Email us at [email protected] and tell us the story you’d like to tell.

Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf

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County officials are gearing up to start construction on a long-awaited overhaul of Ballston’s Mosaic Park.

The County Board is set to approve a construction contract of just over $6 million for the project this weekend, ending years of debate over the project.

The county has hoped for years now to spruce up the park, located at 538 N. Pollard Street, just behind the Gold’s Gym parking lot. Officials started planning work as early as 2008, but some cost overruns prompted a series of delays for the construction.

But the project began to gain steam again last spring, after officials decided to scale it back in scope a bit to rein in costs. The county was also delayed because the developer of Ballston Quarter was using Mosaic Park as a staging area to assemble the new pedestrian bridge stretching over Wilson Blvd — workers installed the structure last weekend.

The park is now set to see a new playground, athletic court and water feature installed as part of the renovation work. Gone, however, are plans for solar panels at the site that would’ve powered the park’s lights and some additional landscaping around the park.

The Shooshan Company, which owns some nearby developments, agreed to fund the first phase of the roughly $6.6 million project. The county is also hoping to add a basketball half-court to the site, but that work will come in a second phase of the project, set to move in tandem with the “future redevelopment of the adjacent commercial property,” according to a county staff report.

The Board will consider the project as part of its consent agenda tomorrow (Saturday), which is generally reserved for noncontroversial items passed without debate. If all goes as planned, the renovations will be wrapped up by the end of the year.

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Arlington County is now hoping to kick off construction work on an overhaul of Ballston’s Mosaic Park early next year, following years of delays prompted in part by cost overruns.

County officials are planning to finish renovations at the park, located at 538 N. Pollard Street just behind the Gold’s Gym parking lot, by the end of 2019. Planners unveiled an updated timeline for the park’s renovations at a community meeting last Wednesday (May 30), along with detailed designs for new features like a playground, plaza and athletic courts.

The county’s eyed upgrades at the park back in 2008, and initially hoped that construction could begin in 2013. But planning work stretched on for years, particularly after its estimated construction costs overran the project’s budget.

That forced the county to re-tool the project slightly to bring costs down, in part by eliminating some planned solar panels at the site that would’ve powered the park’s lighting and reducing the number of trees and plants to be installed around the park.

The Shooshan Company, which owns some nearby developments, agreed to fund the first phase of the $6.6 million project. The county is also hoping to add a basketball half-court to the site, but that work will come in a second phase of the project.

The county plans to award a construction contract next spring, and start work soon afterward. Officials hope to wrap things up by winter 2019.

Graphic via Arlington County

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(Updated at 4:10 p.m.) Arlington County is adjusting its plan to upgrade and renovate Mosaic Park, the green space situated along N. Quincy Street in Ballston.

Though the county was slated to potentially break ground on the project last year — adding a public plaza, interactive water feature, multipurpose court, tree plantings and walkways — the plan hit a snag after its estimated construction costs overran its budget.

“The bids we received were higher than our budget, so staff is looking for ways to adjust the project in a manner that supports both our budget and our design,” said Arlington Dept. of Parks and Recreation spokeswoman Susan Kalish. “We will be rebidding construction later this year.”

The overhaul’s timeline for construction is currently listed as “TBA” on the county website.

More on the project’s original design from Arlington County:

The Mosaic Park Design includes the following work as approved by Arlington County based on the approved 2009 master plan:

Development of a large flexible urban plaza, centrally located casual plaza, an interactive water feature, children’s play area, multi-purpose court, flexible use lawn area, half-court basketball area, rain garden, walkways and sidewalks, site furnishings, and landscaping, lighting for main pedestrian paths throughout, fencing, associated storm water management, drainage and grading for site improvements in compliance with the erosion and sediment control/storm water management ordinances as well as the Chesapeake Bay Ordinance.

A major feature of the park design will be to incorporate sustainable practices and features including use of solar power as well as innovative stormwater management techniques.

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Mosaic Park, the largely unused green space in Ballston along N. Quincy Street next to the Gold’s Gym parking lot, is close to taking the next step toward its planned redesign.

Arlington County is still planning on adding a public plaza, interactive water feature, multipurpose court, tree plantings and walkways. On the Arlington County Board’s agenda this Saturday is a public hearing for a rezoning, changing the park, at 544 N. Pollard Street, from a residential zoning to “public,” which allows construction to begin on the new features.

“Currently, construction drawings are near completion and the County will soon be prepared to go to bid,” the staff report reads. The Shooshan Company has agreed to fund the $6.6 million costs of Phase I construction.

In 2012, in our last update on the future of Mosaic Park, we reported that the county still needed to acquire land to build the park. According to the latest staff report, the county has acquired four of the five parcels that make up the park, and a portion of the fifth.

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The latest conceptual design plan for major improvements to Mosaic Park (544 N. Pollard Street), near Ballston, includes interactive water features, a playground, a multi-use court and a small lawn for play and picnicking.

The plan, from noted design studio Oculus, was revealed at a community meeting last week.

In addition to the water jets and playground equipment, the park will also have green power features — currently slated as an array of solar panels designed to generate the 1.2 kilowatts necessary to power the park while at the same time providing some desirable shade. Additionally, there will be “wooden platform seating” near the water features — similar to the seating along New York City’s High Line.

The Shooshan Company, which is behind the nearby and still-under-construction Founders Square development, will be footing the $6.6 million bill for the improvements, per an agreement with the County Board.

County planners say they’re not sure when exactly the park will be built, but they’re planning on construction beginning at some point in 2013. A second phase of the project, which is expected to include a basketball court and additional green space, has been planned, but depends on the county’s ability to obtain land from a private property owner.

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Ballston’s 1.68 acre Mosaic Park will get a $6.6 million upgrade, paid for by the company behind the nearby Founders Square development.

On Saturday the county board approved a transfer of development rights from the park to the new development, adjacent to Ballston Common Mall.

As a result, Founders Square will now be taller and denser than before. A 15-story office building will become a 20-story office building, a 198-unit residential building will become a 257-unit residential building, and a 164-unit residential building will become a 183-unit hotel.

In exchange, the Shooshan Company, which is developing Founders Square at the corner of Wilson Boulevard and North Randolph Street, will pay $6.6 million for improvements to Mosaic Park, which is now a mostly empty field with some playground equipment.

“Our action today will help realize a long term County goal to provide a high-quality neighborhood park in Ballston,” County Board Chairman Chris Zimmerman said in a statement. “By trading density from the park to Founders Square, the County has secured more than $6 million from the developer that will be used for improvements to Mosaic Park that will benefit the community.”

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